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An Anarchist View at the Protests and Resignation of Indigenous President Evo Morales in #Bolivia

Bolivia. The end of a leadership…

Originally published by Contra Info. Translated by Enough 14.

“Their specific function, as anarchists, is to combat state authority, not only in its inherent manifestations of the capitalist regime but also in its own constitutive essence of governmental power. Neglecting such a function, one can be a democrat, a socialist, a trade unionist, whatever one wants, but one cannot be an anarchist.”

Luigi Fabri, Dictatorship and Revolution, Buenos Aires, Projection, 1967

In the protests in Bolivia, the defeat of Evo Morales and the government of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS), in power for 13 years, draws much attention. A defeat that had been announced since the referendum of February 21, 2016[1] And that is not limited to votes. The Chiquitania fire was of great importance against the previous government, because it demonstrated Evo’s alliances with the ranchers of Santa Cruz in order to comply with million-dollar contracts with the Chinese[2], their Aintiimperialist allies. The attack against the TIPNIS[3] also played against him. But Evo’s insistence on governing, at any price, was what ended up defeating him in the worst way for those who say they are revolutionaries, with protests in the streets.

First moment of the protests.

But let us begin with a partial beginning of these conflicts. The sensation of deception by fraud, or by the unwise decision to interrupt the transmission of the vote count, unleashed what until today was a growing protest. Initially, the democratic, pacifist, civic, and circus youth, who had little criteria when it came to purifying racist comments, asked for a second shift, but were ridiculed (the colored ribbons gave strong motives). Then, more people, including university students and miners, swelled the protests, demanding “new elections,” which was also dismissed, until, finally, the streets shouted for the resignation of Evo Morales, with the civic committees taking over and taking advantage of the moment.

If on the one hand some will tend to explain this from the international forces of imperialism that led people against the MAS, on the other hand, let’s not forget that in those protests and in Evo’s defeat, there is something very basic for any collectivity: not to love the one who governs anymore. In spite of which, there was nothing that called the anarchists to these protests because they, besides defending the system and democracy, were protests without the slightest antiracist criteria. The anarchists, therefore, took advantage of the moment and responded with internationalism and solidarity by going to protest in the Chilean consulate[4] in a region where the hooded comrades continue to wage war against the system.

But if we throw away all the citizenship and the institutions that try to govern life, when we talk about a place like Bolivia, with a majority racialized population as indigenous, there are some things that deserve more attention. First, that the ruler they didn’t want anymore represented something more than any other president. Evo Morales was built as the symbol of the Andean indigenous, almost as an export-oriented image that was avidly accepted by a whole range of left-wing alternatives. And even though it is true that his government allowed a massive influx of indigenous peoples into hotels, public buildings, chairs and political power posts to which many never had access other than to clean or sell something, he did not invent anything of the struggle of the indigenous peoples, nor did he invent his own search for recognition in the officialdom of the Bolivian State. “Formal” education was a long-traveled path, from Warisata to universities, so much so that today there are already three generations of “Aymara intellectuals” and the Public University of El Alto, which was opened on the basis of protests and occupations of abandoned buildings. Traditional health, recognized even as the heritage of humanity and a participant in famous international medical meetings[5], is a non-Western health, which survived all states and powers. Moreover, the “indigenous parliamentary path”[6] was not an achievement of the MAS either, just to give two important examples, MITKA (Indian Movement Tupak Katari) was one of the first Indian parties, founded in 1978 and participant in the elections after the dictatorship claiming an Indian country[7]. And, Comadre Remedios, the first Chola woman to be a TV presenter, the first Chola to occupy a public position when elected deputy by the department of La Paz, and the first Chola presidential candidate. Very different in their search for the anarcho sindicalismo cholo of the 1920s and 1930s, in which culinary women, artisans and florists preferred the autonomy of independent profession. From an anarchist point of view we need to point out that it is precisely this inclusion in the system that degenerated and degenerates the autonomous struggle because it forces it to legalize itself, institutionalize itself and enter the civilizing project.

That is why it is urgent to remember that we never need a president, a constitution, or a plurinational state to exist with the joy of being what we are, nor to resist centuries of colonialism. Native peoples exist despite states. The profound relationship we have with the earth, with the pacha, the achachilas, the illas, the apachetas and everything around us, was not invented by MAS. What that party did do was to bring together the indigenous with a strong discourse of the statist left[8], the other side of the MAS coin, orchestrated by Álvaro García Linera, replacing monuments of colonists with those of Che Guevara or Hugo Chávez. What the MAS administration did, in this eagerness to build an indigenous state, was to steal the symbols of resistance and put them in the state and in the uniforms of the repressive forces that historically and today are also the executioners of all native peoples.

Ironically, the role of the armed forces was instrumental in Evo’s resignation. Let’s make it clear that these were not good cops who didn’t want to massacre people. No such delirium on the part of the city police or anti-fascist police. The police mutinied asking for a series of economic benefits, taking advantage of the situation[9]. And when they returned to the streets, they did so to defend their usual bosses, the rich who think they are western whites. The police will never be friends, it is the repressive force. There are those who do not forget and that is why we applaud the dozens of burned police stations, the looting of custom offices and the death of the UTOP colonel, who, frightened of dynamite, ended up crashing his car against a minibus, by the way nobody says anything about the minibus. The vandalisms are not just remote controlled actions for the MAS to return, they are also the recovery of life by attacking those who repress it. And it is certainly an anarchist horizon that this recovery of life will be cleansed of all parties.

And the right?

The appearance of a caudillo ( Military Titel for Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, Enough 14) of the highest fascist caliber, Camacho, son of the bourgeois landlord population, former militant of the Cruceñista Youth Union[10], a shocking and markedly racist group and head of the Pro Santa Cruz Civic Committee[11], defends the interests of the “rich” part of Bolivia, rich in land, soya, cattle but apparently less rich in thought, since Camacho asked for help in understanding the state’s own political constitution, no more and no less, than the Chancellor of Brazil, famous for his speeches where he mixes esotericism with racist literature[12]. Thus, with help in understanding his own Constitution, Camacho took advantage of the displeasure against Evo to become the leader of the protests and after the resignation, to enter the government palace, burning the Wiphala[13], with the Bolivian flag and the bible. Same bible with which the new president, Jeanine, entered, encircled by soldiers. In the attitude of the right there is a reaction and validity of the old values of domination: nationalism, warlordism, patriarchy, colonization, the supremacy of a Creole idea of the white and the insistence on the power of God, that eternal dictator who for centuries tries to dominate all kinds of rebels and extirpate the “idolatries” of all native peoples. In his words calling for national unity and a single Bolivia, resides the imposition of a State over all other collectivities and the desire for normal citizenship that guarantees them to continue dominating after the nightmare of 13 years being out of political power. These acts, together with the Santa Cruz police removing the Wiphala from the uniforms, will be the gestures that will awaken the camouflaged tensions. Because what they did with the Wiphala is what they want to do with the native peoples. Because rejecting Wiphala implies all the colonialism that exists in Bolivia, where people look in the mirror and want to look white because they are more educated, more civilized. Because entering with the Bible and the flag, expelling the Wiphala expresses the ethnic cleansing that domination always dreamed of in Bolivia.

Another moment.

And this is a second moment, in which without Leader Evo Morales, the protest continued to spread. Looting and vandalism from all sides remain. Initially, with no police and no president, the “hordes” provoked public panic, a historic panic of revenge against those racialized as indigenous. In the end those who dominate know that they eat, buy, are served, transported and even live in houses that are made by what they call Indians. But the looting, as well as the attacks, are much more than the action of one party. Thinking only about parties dissociates us from the complexity of our anarchic tensions and procurements. Looting and attacks are also the result of secular exclusion and servitude.

If we broaden our vision beyond the borders of left and right parties, and look towards the beautiful and urgent destruction of domination, we can feel the unresolved tensions in Bolivia. The burning of the Wiphala, like the burning of the ponchos in Sucre in 2008[14], are acts that remind us from time to time of the face of domination, of the civilizing project, of which the State is a vital part, and all those who enter it. Why? Because the State in this continent was the result of a colonial imposition, which mutated into wars and “revolutions” among Creole elites. Because the State is the legalizing arm of the devastation of the earth, through its policies of development and progress. Because the State is Power and power uses repressive force to annihilate any freedom and corrupt anyone. Consequently, and although it may seem obvious to an anarchist to say this, it is not through the State or through parties (whether or not they are leftist) that domination is annihilated. Domination is annihilated by destroying the state and its false critics. That is the horizon that inspires the anarchist struggle, antagonistic to power wherever it comes from, a horizon that leads us to see the possibility of absolute freedom. Therefore, when we anarchists say that we want the destruction of the State, we are serious.

But we have also learned that horizon from the peoples from whom we inherited our native roots, which have not needed the State for centuries. That’s why we heard again in the streets the cry – Civil War Now! [15] An ancient cry we already heard in the Gas and Water War[16], which reminds us that the war in these lands never took place between the original peoples and the colonizers, but between Creole elites. I shout that, today it is raised again by a community that apparently settles in the territory of El Alto, but that is much bigger, the racialized collectivity as indigenous, from where we remember that the tension against the civilizing project is not resolved, because it is expressed daily in the most varied exclusions. And that is something that no government can resolve.

On the Constituents and the Constitution.

The false resolution of these tensions through the Constituent Assembly promoted by MAS between 2006 and 2008[17], was a solution on legal paper (Western logic) of problems that settle on the surface and the vision of the world that is antagonistic to the Capital State. A constituent, and its resulting constitution, are the instruments of the social pact between society and the State. They are the hallmark of the submission of collectivities to a State and the defeat of any autonomous struggle. It is not by chance that the Constitutions appear precisely as “solutions” to save the State in moments of instability or disenchantment with it. Thus appeared the post-dictatorship constituents in Brazil, in 1946, during the Vargas Era, which came together with an amnesty (1945), and the 1987-1988 constituent, which came after the 1979 amnesty; both processes functioned as peacemakers[18] and re-established the worn ties of society with the State. Similarly, the Constituent and the new Plurinational Constitution of Bolivia served to calm the spirits of revolt that had certainly not allowed the State to act since 2000, but that Constituent and its constitution built an institutional corral that disassociated the people from the autonomous way of doing politics and struggle: the street and protests. The Constituent reduced millenarian struggles to one party, the MAS, and allowed racism and colonialism to be disguised as political opposition. That’s why it was easier for them, the usual rulers, to insult an Indian, calling him a masista, than to maintain the classic Indian shit that is highly politically incorrect.

The New Constitution and the indigenous face of Evo confused so much with that inclusion that they confused even those who were previously antagonistic to the State, who suddenly found themselves part of both an indigenous group and a ministry, being part of a group of smugglers as a public authority. Strong and combative collectivities became government, and with inclusion they confused and conformed, losing sight of the fact that the hierarchies not only of class but of culture and skin color were barely hidden. Many “ácratas” and libertarians were also severely confused (as happened in Venezuela with the anarcho chavistas, in Mexico with the anarcho zapatistas, and also in Brazil with the pro lula), probably because they only accompanied the social movements and did not make an individual search of anarchy that was not lost in the first storm[19]. That confusion added to the rejection (with strong repression through it) of a radical anarchist practice, ended up almost silencing anarchism in Bolivia[20].

That is why today it is important to say something, from the point of view of anarchism, when a president resigns, so that those who are confused do not go so far as to feel sorry for a president, or to believe that fighting against the right is the same as lowering the bet for freedom towards alliances with left-wing parties. That the president who governs is more or less sympathetic to inclusive worldviews is a deeper debate, despite which we cannot forget that a president, even if he is indigenous, woman, black, or libertarian, is the guardian of the State, of Capital and of the devastation of the Earth because he decides to rule over others and dispose of life and people as resources.

We are anarchists, and to speak of a coup only legitimises the logic of the state and corners the thought towards the parties and the parliament. The debate on whether or not it is a coup hardly reinforces the intangibility of the State, its laws and officials. The State logic has so washed away the minds of people who fail to see that we are the ones in charge of solving our problems and that no door is opened for us by any savior. The reduction of the struggle in parties, as well as the dual thinking between left and right, make it impossible to look for radical horizons of struggle that build autonomy and aim towards the absolute destruction of the State.

It’s always time.

That is why I want to emphasize that we were precisely the first anarchists to fight against the government of Evo Morales, with offensive action against the macabre intervention of the TIPNIS in word and propaganda for that fact. So we ask now, if this moment is about losing in front of the right? Whoever has struggle as a habit of life knows that we lost nothing, that everything continues.

Just because Evo lost doesn’t mean the right won. And if Evo continues, it doesn’t mean that domination ends. For those who have forgotten, neither Congress nor the government is a triumph for any freedom-loving anarchist. The struggle against the right has always been the struggle against domination, against devastation, against the tyrannical god, against racism, and of course, against the state. We always fight against it, and precisely to fight against that right, against which we will always fight, is that many of the aforementioned confusions originate. The best answer is being given from El Alto, who insist “Listen. It is not the masista (Supporters of the MAS party are called masista, Enough 14) who blocks, it is not the masista who is enraged by the burning of his symbol, by the racist offense, by indifference, by hypocrisy, by paternalism, no, no, and a thousand times no. Understand, it is not the masista who is in the streets, it is a whole society, it is a whole city of migrants within its Aymara territory that is mobilized. It is the Aymara city. They are the veterans of 2003, they are the orphans who have lost their parents because of the shooting provoked in the government of the one who now advocates democracy. It is not the masista gentlemen, it is the alteño (Inhabitants of El Alto. By 2003, El Alto’s social movement, which had been fueled by the “water war” in Cochabamba in April of 2000, Enough 14) who is fighting. It is the Aymara”[21], and they protest loudly and violently shouting -La Wiphala is fucking respected!, I shout the rejection, from the first day, to that right, the domination, that enters to govern.

The call now is to attack, but never defending a lesser option, neither a party, nor “alliances” that divert us from the desire to live free, as we are, and without being commanded. Attack every repressive force, every state institution, every representation of the Bolivian state, of any state, inspired by hatred against domination. In the end, we were always against the State, and we always resisted all powers, being racialized as indigenous, and seeking anarchy. That we now have to explain didactically why not feeling sorry for a party or a ruler should lead to severe criticism.

As I write these lines, there are strong protests[22], the prisoners of the San Pedro Prison are mutineering and the director of the Penitentiary Regime has resigned, the armed forces, along with the police (that police that refused to repress the civilized and democratic youth) have killed at least ten people in La Paz and Cochabamba, ten people with slanted eyes, brown skin and ancestral languages which they call masistas. There are hundreds of detainees accused of the same thing, but they are not only coca growers, Aymaras, Quechuas, Guaranis, people insulted for centuries… A surreal persecution is carried out against every person, including doctors, coming from Cuba and Venezuela, as well as the expulsion of everything they believe is a “communist threat” and the centralized power does not establish dialogue with the social sectors without the mediation of the UN, the EU and the Church.

Things are clear and the best answer to the fears of the “rise of fascism in this part of the continent”, to the geopolitical concerns of left and right, is not even a day of rest. Only the end of the State allows to create autonomy and to continue with the autonomy that so many collectivities have lived in for millennia. Beyond the fight of parties that only want power, we are happy warriors defending what we are, lovers of freedom, living resistance against colonization for centuries. May the black flag and the Wiphala meet again in so many streets, in so many struggles, with the fuse ready for conflict, free from the State.

The end of a leadership is the beginning of freedom.

For those who fight against every tyrant,

let the achachilas’ winds blow resistance!

For the revolt to be contagious!

Neither Left nor Right!

Death to the State and Long Live Anarchy!

PS 1. To the comrades of Cochabamba, Santa Cruz, La Paz, El Alto, and to those who from internationalism have nourished this text with narrations of what is happening in each place and above all with the insistence to fight.

PS. 2. With the memory of the anarchists who knew how to criticize all the totalitarianisms that deviate from the horizon of radical struggle for freedom.

[1] On February 21, 2016, a Referendum was held that asked if people agreed to modify the Constitution so that President and Vice President of the State can be re-elected twice continuously (YES or NO). Despite the results, 51% for NO and 49% for YES, in November 2017, the Constitutional Court surprised with the news: That President Evo Morales and other authorities could seek re-election to office without limits, because the constitution gives the human right to run for president. www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-america-latina-46450251.

[2] In August of this year, more than 2 million hectares of the region known as Chiquitania were “accidentally” burned. Shortly before they had announced an economic success for the export of cattle and soya to China: “Through intense and coordinated work developed with the Ministry of Rural Development and Lands of the State of Bolivia, it became possible to sign this important protocol that aims to facilitate the export of beef from my country to China” Chancellor Diego Pary in April 2019, http://www.la-razon.com/economia/bolivia-protocolo-mercado-chino-carne-boliviana-exportacion_0_3137086262.html. https://dialogochino.net/28642-will-exporting-beef-to-china-cause-deforestation-in-bolivia/?lang=pt-br.

[3] TIPNIS, is the abbreviation of Territorio Indígena Isiboro Sécure, Reserva Natural e Indígena that Evo Morales authorized to be crossed by a highway that was part of the IIRSA (Iniciativa para la Integración Regional Sud Americana). This attempt was defeated by successive demonstrations and conflicts between 2007 and 2011, when he finally declared the TIPNIS intangible, but continued co-opting the peoples of that region with gifts, in the hope of being able to continue with the highway. https://tipnisbolivia.org/tag/iirsa/, https://operamundi.uol.com.br/politica-e-economia/16585/evo-se-curvou-ao-39-novo-imperialismo-brasileiro-39-diz-lider-indigena-da-bolivia

[4] “Our supportive greetings to comrades who are fighting in the streets, not for a better government, but for the destruction of all forms of power,” they said in a communiqué, also explaining a little of the context in Bolivia: “As anarchists we submerge in these protests that are interested in taking power, we do not agree with the opposition that represents the return of the right or the left that currently governs.” https://es-contrainfo.espiv.net/2019/11/06/la-paz-bolivia-contra-la-crisis-social-local-y-protesta-solidaria-en-el-consulado-chileno/

[5] Carmen Beatriz Losa’s research dedicated to compiling the history of the Kallawaya and native medicine, as well as their penalization and subsequent inclusion in the state by means of institutional validation certificates, can be read in this regard, which broke with all local tradition and valorization.

[6]. https://www.lostiempos.com/actualidad/pais/20181215/fallece-69-anos-comadre-remedios-loza

[7] Mi militancia-MITKA” by Felipe Quispe Huanca, Ediciones Pachakuti. La Paz.

[8] García Linera, Álvaro. What is A Revolution? From the Russian Revolution of 1917 to the revolution of our times. Vicepresidencia del Estado, La Paz, 2017.

[9] The police asked for equal salaries with the Armed Forces, housing for each of them and so many economic benefits that it would take them even further away from any idea of a people without such benefits. https://www.la-razon.com/nacional/Motin-policial-capitales-presion-policiales_0_3254074615.html

[10] The Cruceñista Youth Union is an ultra-right regionalist group, self-designated Shock group of the Civic Committee for Santa Cruz. Some of its members have been prosecuted for racist violence, such as Jorge Holberg. Unforgettable his famous actions of going out on the streets with baseball bats, shields with a green cross, mittens and uniforms with white t-shirts, jeans and short hair, to beat “Indians”. https://www.indios.org.br/pt/Not%C3%ADcias?id=15921

[11] The Pro Santa Cruz Civic Committee was founded in 1950, at the Gabriel René Moreno University in the city of Santa Cruz, with Hernando García Vespa, Government Secretary of the Local University Federation as organizer of the event. At that time, a few decades after the Chaco War (1932-1935), and two years before the 1952 Revolution, a series of economic opportunities were starting, such as railroads and highways, towards the Santa Cruz area that they wanted to take advantage of in order to leave the third world behind. The CCpSC defends the interests of the cattle region, soya and agribusiness in Bolivia. https://www.comiteprosantacruz.org.bo.

[12] https://www.brasildefato.com.br/2019/11/11/saiba-quem-e-macho-camacho-lider-do-golpe-na-bolivia-e-aliado-de-ernesto-araujo/

[13] The Wiphala, is a symbol of several peoples that recall the Tawaintinsuyo name of the space controlled by the Incas in which there were many peoples. Although its origin is not clear, because it seems to have been quite multiple and with diverse appearances, “the great explosion of the Wiphala especially in the Andean part happens with the mobilizations of peasant unionism in the 1970s in Bolivia. This recovery of it as a symbol of struggle makes it much more than a flag, but the emblem of various native collectives and the representation of Andean philosophy. https://pueblosoriginarios.com/sur/andina/aymara/whipala.html

[14] I am referring to the humiliation that members of the Interinstitutional Committee and students of the San Francisco Xavier University provoked against people identified as “masistas,” who wore traditional clothes of their native peoples, who were forced to kneel and kiss the flags of Sucre ( Sucre is a city in the southern highlands of Bolivia , Enough 14) and Bolivia, while burning their typical clothes. I recommend the documentary by Cesar Brie Humiliated and Offended https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=my_dfXXaLTI, to learn a little.

[15] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHPSspeM_NI

[16] The Water War (2000) was a conflict between the population of Cochabamba and the intention to privatize water for the benefit of a North American company, a company that was defeated in that city https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqj4MHjBh6A. The Gas War, 2003, in La Paz, included several days of conflict and encirclement of the city of La Paz, first in demand for gas for Bolivia and not for export, and later as a protest against the murder of eighty people who were shot dead by the army that unblocked the streets to supply gasoline to the city of La Paz.

[17] The Constituent Assembly began on August 6, 2006, in Sucre, with the purpose of drafting a new constitution that was approved on December 10, 2007 by the Assembly and by referendum, and has been in force since February 7, 2009.

[18] For the “pacification of the Brazilian family”: a brief comparison between the anistias of 1945 and 1979. Carla SImeone Rodeghero. 2017, Alameda, SP.

[19] The individual search for anarchy is an indispensable part of any search for anarchy. If we anarchists are anarchists in some collective, we limit our expansive capacities to that collective, and anarchists, we are fugitives, we are prisoners, we are banished, we are immigrants, we do not have a homeland (but we do have roots and we love the land), we fight; that is, we remain alone and we disaggregate, but at all times, we continue to be anarchists because of anarchy. The individual search for anarchy, moreover, does not mean any obstacle to collective construction; on the contrary, it drives it because an individuality that seeks anarchy will always look for accomplices and spaces to live it.

[20] It is exaggerated to say that the offensive remained permanently in Bolivia. But it is also exaggerated to say that nothing happens there. Precise and punctual actions such as the Molotovs against the Argentine consulate for the Disappearance of Santiago Maldonado; or propaganda and solidarity, as well as the last anarchist book fair, did not let taste any flavour, but they did want more.

[21] http://jichha.blogspot.com/2019/11/no-son-masistas-son-altenos-carajo.html. The Universidad Pública del El Alto, Los kataristas and some figures like Felipe Quispe, el Mallku, as well as many people, make it clear that their protests are a response of indignation against the burning of the Wiphala, and the use of the bible to delegitimize the Andean. The page cited is a reference to follow and know the current Katarist thought.

[22] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKlFybQYhqY


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